Game: 2013 World Series
Location: St. Louis, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan
Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 – Thursday, October 31, 2013
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers
How Detroit gets there
Lineups are still not going to want to face Max Scherzer just because his loss column has been soiled. Scherzer has struck out nearly 150 batters with an ERA around 3.00 for a half-season that any elite starter would drool over. Add in Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez to the mix and it just gets ridiculous to even consider betting against this team in a 7-game series.
The offense is of course what gets all the attention, and for good reason. Even forgetting the fact that Miguel Cabrera may win another Triple Crown, the Tigers are tops in the league in almost every offensive category. First in batting average, second in runs and on-base percentage, and third in slugging percentage will help a lineup cruise to another division title and keep it going through the ups and downs of October.
What also helps Detroit is the fact that it seems very unlikely that any team will challenge them for the AL Central title. Cleveland is the most promising but it still has the Dog Days left to prove that it's not just a June darling. Granted, their lead over the Indians is not a substantial one at the time of the All-Star Break, but they have been down before. It will be easier to put faith into the Indians when they go back five or six games in the division and then make a comeback themselves.
How St. Louis gets there
It's surprising to see the offensive numbers St. Louis has put up and think that Detroit has been the only ones making the front pages and cover stories for their power. Few teams are better than St. Louis right now in terms of productivity. Five key players (with first baseman Matt Adams being included on that list) are hitting above .300 as of the All-Star Break with very few inclinations that things are going to slow down.
The Cardinals are winning games and fighting for division leads with their bats just as much as Detroit is. And their rotation led by 12-game winner Adam Wainwright and 11-game winner Lance Lynn is as feared as anyone's right now.
Is it possible that Pittsburgh will make the race for the division exciting into the later September weeks? Of course, but they are still on the earlier end of their comeback. Even with a division throne to sit on, the Pirates will still have to get through the likes of Cincinnati, Arizona, Atlanta, or even Washington come October, which they have not yet proven they are capable of doing.
But you know who has proven themselves time and time and again now? St. Louis. And even if they do end up having to play a one-game lottery Wild Card against Cincinnati or Los Angeles or whoever, St. Louis has proven this season and in the last few that they only need a foot in the door to make it all the way.
It was ten years ago now that Miguel Cabrera burst onto the scene to help ignite the Florida Marlins to their second World Series. The amazing thing about the then 20-year-old Cabrera's season was how natural it seemed. From his walk-off home run in the very first game in June to the crushing power against the likes of Roger Clemens and the Yankees in six games, Cabrera did it with ease.
With an even better offensive cast supporting him in 2013, the third baseman from Venezuela is a few October at bats away from staking his claim as an all-time great. A year removed from the highs of a historical Triple Crown and MVP season and the lows of being the final out of a World Series sweep, it is hard to bet against Detroit, Cabrera, and the surrounding crew.
The Cardinals will make it an exciting series, unlike the last time the two saw each other in 2005. With their offense being no stranger to power or clutch so far this season, the pitching staff (which is proving to be one of the best top-to-bottom crews of '13) will do a number on the Tigers line-up that they won't be seeing among the likes of their division rivals for the rest of the season.
With backup from fellow starters and the lineup, Wainwright can easily pitch two gems and lead St. Louis to its third title in two years. But all Miguel Cabrera needs is an above average week and a half and the October demons he has been working to forget for a year will be more than long gone.
Tigers in 6